The Sunday Mail
What do Lil Wayne, Elvis Presley and the cast of “Glee” have in common? Bear in mind that one is a rapper, the other is a cultural icon and the cast is an ensemble of young actors and actresses from an American musical comedy-drama series?
Apparently, these are three of the top acts that have made headlines on the US Top 100.
The “Glee” cast tops the list, with an estimated 207 songs appearing on the US Top 100 during the show’s six seasons between 2009 and 2015.
Granted, the tracks are made up of covers of popular songs, both past and present, but that is still an impressive accomplishment. These, and many other nuggets, were some of the pieces of trivia that I discovered during my research for this instalment, which is more of an obituary of sorts. Underneath the numbers game — which includes 9,6 million and 26,8 million views for the show’s pilot and most viewed episode respectively, and six Emmy awards — lies a dark and tragic trail that is filled with bankruptcy, death and obscurity. Since the show’s end, some five years ago, only three of the show’s cast seem to have maintained a modicum of fame and success, with Melissa Benoist (Marley Rose) now starring in her own series, “Supergirl”. The duo of Lea Michele (Rachael Berry) and Matthew Morrison has been busy on the Broadway scene, while the rest of the cast have either disappeared or are trying to rediscover their magic on the screen.
Some are trying to launch music careers (cue Kevin McHale and Noah Guthrie). Three cast members have unfortunately passed on, with Naya Rivera being the latest.
She joins the duo of Cory Monteith (Finn) and Mark Sailing (Puck) who died from a drug overdose back in 2013 and suicide in 2018 respectively.
Monteith received a proper send-off during the show’s fifth season episode titled “Quarterback”, while Sailing’s passing went by under the radar, hence the need to pen a tribute of sorts for the latest death of Naya Rivera.
For the more perceptive, it does take a rocket scientist to discover that I was a huge fan of the show; a fact that I find strange, given my love/hate for the genre. Over the years my interest in musicals has wavered from show to- how or film to film.
I did not enjoy “Hamilton” or “La La Land”, but still hold “Le Miserable” and “Glee” in the highest regard.
Rivera’s tragic passing did hit me hard. But it pushed me to delve into the tragic history of these talented actors and actresses.
The American actress was declared missing earlier this month, after she went on a boat ride with her four-year-old son, Josey, in California.
A passing boat later found her son alone on the boat, leading to a five-day search during which Rivera’s body was found and she was declared dead on July 13. Ironically, July 13 was the fifth anniversary of her former co-star Cory Monteith passing, and this kind of puts a tragic spin on the show’s cast.
Rivera was a talented actress.
Some could argue a method actor, as her personal life mirrored that of her character Santana Lopez, a cheerleader from Lima Heights, one never to hold her tongue when expressing her opinions.
The show’s six-year run is full of quotable quotes from the Queen from Lima heights.
Top of that is her rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie”, which sat at just under eight million views on YouTube.
Sadly, her off-screen persona was riddled with a long-standing beef with one of her co-stars, Michele (Rachael Berry), a failed music career that saw her signed to Columbia Records but with no album recording success and a public break-up with rapper Big Sean. This is not to forget her tragic passing.
Still, none of these holds a candle to the star potential the 33-year-old possessed, the records and success she and her co-stars managed to attain during the brief but memorable time in the spotlight.
Rivera is survived by her four-year-old Josey, and the hope now is that she has met her idol, Winehouse, and the two have sung numerous angelic renditions of “Valerie”.